over·drive | \ˈō-vər-ˌdrīv \

Definition of overdrive 

1 : an automotive transmission gear that transmits to the drive shaft a speed greater than engine speed

2 : a state of heightened activity going into rhetorical overdrive

Examples of overdrive in a Sentence

He put the car into overdrive. His acting career is in overdrive. The reporters went into overdrive to finish their stories on time.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

But that sense of self-worth in overdrive also kicks her life into gear. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "Review: Amy Schumer Gives I Feel Pretty Its Confidence and Charm," 20 Apr. 2018 Then the transfer rumour mill went into overdrive after Italian media said Juventus had put in a bid and Spanish sports daily Marca cited reports of Ronaldo looking for a home in Turin. Chicago Tribune, chicagotribune.com, "Ronaldo: Football legend takes his talents to Juventus," 10 July 2018 In the days after Hurricane Harvey, her efforts went into overdrive. Allison Bagley, Houston Chronicle, "Sunnyside ‘Soup Lady’ Joyce Smith served up warm words and essential goods during Harvey," 3 July 2018 Neymar has been at it for years but the grandiose stage of the World Cup has seen his theatrics go into overdrive. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "For all his talent, Neymar is an embarrassment to soccer," 2 July 2018 Here are eight more stories to watch as the offseason kicks into overdrive this weekend. 1. Andrew Sharp, SI.com, "The Eight Most Interesting Non-LeBron Questions of NBA Free Agency," 28 June 2018 If the water in the reef gets too warm, the zooxanthellae’s metabolism goes into overdrive and starts producing toxins. Julia Belluz, Vox, "Hawaii is banning sunscreens that kill coral reefs," 2 July 2018 The meeting, which could prove to be a crucial moment in the global diplomatic push to resolve the nuclear standoff with Pyongyang, has sent the highly manicured city-state into security overdrive. Fox News, "Elite Gurkhas from Nepal deployed to secure Trump-Kim summit," 11 June 2018 The state’s Fair Political Practices Commission went into bureaucratic overdrive Thursday, booting a May 24 complaint filed against supporters of Lt. John Wildermuth, San Francisco Chronicle, "Villaraigosa’s complaint against pro-Gavin Newsom group gets quick boot," 31 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'overdrive.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of overdrive

1926, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about overdrive

Dictionary Entries near overdrive








Statistics for overdrive

Last Updated

22 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for overdrive

The first known use of overdrive was in 1926

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for overdrive



English Language Learners Definition of overdrive

: a gear in an automobile that allows it to be driven at higher speeds

: a state of great activity especially in order to achieve something

More from Merriam-Webster on overdrive

See words that rhyme with overdrive

Comments on overdrive

What made you want to look up overdrive? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to teach someone the beliefs of a group

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!